Ravenous Businessmen and the Lone Sushi

Ravenous Businessmen and the Lone Sushi
So then…he raises his chopsticks to pluck sushi from the tray in the center of the conference table, but then realizes — it is the very last piece of sushi.

He quickly lowers his chopsticks and looks around the table at his Japanese colleagues who are all similarly eyeing the lone tuna roll. No one dares take it.

There is some shifting in the seats, some nervous twitching, and one gentleman unconsciously taps his chopsticks on his plate.

I falter a bit in my presentation as this drama unfolds. We hope to impress Mr. Tanaka and his colleagues so much that they agree to carry our automotive accessories in their line of shops in Japan. It’s a small chain, but it would be our first foray into the international market, so we’re very excited.

As I point to the next product line and discuss its success at our country’s largest retailer, I shoot a look at one of my co-workers to indicate distress over the sushi. But he’s too wrapped up in the presentation to notice.

There are a dozen of us crammed into this conference room – 6 visiting Japanese from our potential new client and 6 Americans with our company. To accommodate the varying culinary tastes of the group, we had ordered a huge tray of sushi – and a huge tray of deli meats and breads for sandwiches.

We must have underestimated the sushi portion size for the average Japanese businessman – or these guys are particularly ravenous – because they literally devour the entire tray in minutes.

I’m up here selling my ass off, trying to take their minds off their apparent starvation, but I have to tell you — there is nothing more distracting than a hungry audience.

I shoot a look at another co-worker to signal – “Feed these people; I’m dyin’ up here!” but she is oblivious.

I’m loathe to stop the presentation to address the situation because quite honestly, I don’t know where to get any more sushi anyway! Our company is out in the middle of an industrial center so there are no shops or restaurants nearby. We had to order the sushi far in advance – and now we’re out.

Finally, one of the younger Japanese businessman tentatively reaches his chopsticks over to the deli meat and bread tray. He hovers there for a moment, then zips down to snare a slice of ham.

He places it on his plate and stares at it a moment. His colleagues are transfixed on the operation. He dips the ham into the soy sauce, adds a touch of wasabi, and pops it in his mouth. He nods.

Suddenly the other 5 are fast and furious with their chopsticks and soon they are plucking up roast beef, turkey, and ham onto their plates, dousing with soy sauce and wasabi, then slurping it down.

Suddenly the sliced provolone and Swiss cheese are flying through the air, meeting a similar fate.

I can hardly keep a straight face. Who knew cold cuts and cheeses would be so appealing to the Japanese palate?

I instantly imagine a brilliant idea for a chain of deli stores for Japan!

I’d serve:

Snapper on Rye
Turkey Tuna Roll
Squid & Swiss on Sourdough
Eel Knish
Soy Sauce Salami Sliders
Corned Beef California Roll
Pastrami Sashimi, Hold the Pickles
And of course — Wasabi-Flavored Bagels!

OK the menu might need some tinkering, but clearly I’m onto something –
Our Japanese visitors are delighted with their deli discovery –
Their full attention is now on my scintillating sales presentation –
They agree to a large initial purchase order of auto accessories!

And now I’m off to invent my new chain of deli-sushi spots for Japan!
All restaurant names and menu suggestions welcome!


— Darcy Perdu

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59 replies on “Ravenous Businessmen and the Lone Sushi

  1. OMG the funniest, most ironic thing just happened. As I scrolled down to comment, I became distracted by one of your sponsors, Zen Foods, and am so compelled I almost click on the link before commenting….just like what happened in your story! I’m distracted by food…aaaahhhhhhh!

    Very funny story, btw. Enjoyed it. The only food story that popped in my head was this one: Once me, my BFF and her fiancé were at a wedding expo market thing to look for wedding dresses. They had tons of caterers there who were handing out samples of their food, which was completely distracting to myself and her fiancé, much to my BFF’s annoyance. At one point she lost us completely as we stalked food samples. She found me and, after a scolding, we continued on together. After a few minutes, her fiancé showed up with a fist full of melt-away mints. I love melt-away mints, and these were all sorts of pastel colors…and just so pretty….and I was so excited I took them from his hand immediately and gulped the whole lot down. Then, to my embarrassment, he says, “those weren’t all for you.”

    • Gulping down all the melt-away mints? Awk—ward! Too funny!
      Also, so funny you were distracted by the Zen Foods ad — their food IS delicious!

    • Ha! Me too — that sushi photo looks fantastic!

    • Brilliant idea, Vinny-San! You are now my new Head Chef at my yet-to-be-named chain of deli-sushi shops!

    • ohhh, Nippon Nosh is awesome! and alliterative! love it!

  2. Julie said:

    Oh how funny Darcy!

    Although I have never really felt the need to indulge in sushi, from what you said it sounds like the Japanese just really like soy sauce and wasabe.. Heck with enough wasabe you can’t really taste anything for a while anyway. (The closest I have come is I do like my wasabe and soy sauce almonds. Just delish and even they make me cough a little sometimes.

    One company I used to work for did a lot of work with a Japanese company. All the men who worked here got americanized English names. They would sound so funny with the very thick Japanese accent saying “My name is(a) Tom.”

    • Wasabi & Soy Sauce Almonds sound delicious! Must find those!

  3. OMG that is too much!! If I were you, I would go with the “I invented this” trend and call the restaurants American Sushi!! Of course I’ll be looking for my cut :-)
    Congrats on nailing the presentation and keeping your cool.
    Allie recently posted..The RundownMy Profile

    • Allie, your cut is officially 7% — and all the Soy Sauce Salami Sliders you can eat!

  4. Perfect ending, Darcy. It’s so complex and exciting working with such diverse cultures. I’m glad they decided to try out the “American” version of meeting foods. A deli sounds like a great idea!!
    Jennifer Steck recently posted..Single Gal’s Guide to Buying a CarMy Profile

    • Jennifer, I agree it IS really fun working with different cultures. Whenever the Japanese clients would visit us, they always brought little gifts for us — so we would do the same. Also, it was very important that whenever they offered us a business card, we were to take it with 2 hands and study it, nod respectfully, then place it gently in a safe place. (In most of my American meetings, we practically deal ’em out like playing cards and just shove them in our briefcases. But in Japan, the business card and person’s title deserve honor and respect. Pretty cool.)

      • Reindlgator said:

        You are so right on this Darcy. I worked in Japan for 3 weeks and studied etiquette for weeks before my trip. Also, never tip in Japan. They will chase you down to give your money back..I loved it.

        • Wow, I didn’t know about the tipping. That’s really cool! I love learning about different customs and cultures! How fun that you were able to live in Japan for 3 weeks!

    • Roshni! NOW you’re talking! I would LOVE some butter chicken sushi and tandoori fish rolls! Our menu is getting more adventurous by the minute!

    • Yep! But they were too polite to take the last piece — so they made do with the deli platter! So funny!

  5. Massagau itte kudasai. Anatta wa uchi no yubinkyoku desu. RINGO desu ka!

    I hope your Japanese is good enough to get by when you’re over there setting up your fabulous deli shops! Thank goodness for the occasional food pioneer :D
    Considerer recently posted..Pick an age, any age!My Profile

    • Ha! Lizzi, I tried translating those phrases online but no luck. I’ll just spout them to any Japanese I see on my culinary tour of that country for my new shops — I hope you’re not making me say something naughty or silly. Oh wait — it’s Lizzi! OF COURSE it’s naughty and silly! :o)

  6. Brilliant! Mayhaps wasabi would help me like deli meat again! hahaha It would be delicious with roast beef. You may really have something here.

    • I like the way you think! Maybe exquisite Kobe Roast Beef with a White Wine-Wasabi Reduction Sauce. Hmmmm.

  7. I’m glad they liked the cold cuts! I would probably never put wasabi on ham myself but to each their own…

    I had sushi this weekend actually, and there’s always something about that last piece. Everyone was offering it to everyone else, “no, YOU take it!” It takes a brave and possibly annoyed person to just eat that last piece.
    Jane @ The Blue Morpho recently posted..Fit & Fabulous: I Lost 3lbs!My Profile

    • Ha! That’s so true about the last piece! It reminds me of that old joke of six friends sharing dinner, when finally only one pork chop remains on the platter. Everyone kindly defers to everyone else, insisting they don’t want it — when suddenly, the lights go out! When the power comes back on, there is one hand on the pork chop and 5 forks sticking out of it! :o)

  8. That was funny! I remember similar business luncheon situations, it was like speaking before a shark tank!
    Stopping by from Bloppy Bloggers.

  9. I was the Facilities Coordinator (which was a fancy way of saying I was an Executive Assistant who also cleaned the espresso maker) at a company that frequently had visitors from India as well as many Jewish guests.

    Finding lunch solutions for people with various dietary restrictions/customs when you live in a small town can be a challenge. You need to have an answer to “Is this Kosher/Halal/Vegan?” for everything that comes into the conference room. And there will ALWAYS be someone who cannot eat one single thing you end up serving because they never mentioned they were allergic to something or recently had surgery and are still only eating clear broth or are on a juice fast.

    All I’ve got for you Japanese Deli spot names is “Wasabi on Rye”… I think Nippon Nosh gets my vote! (Just make sure “nosh” isn’t a naughty word in Japanese)!
    Adminderella recently posted..Social Media Choices Can Be OverwhelmingMy Profile

    • “Is this Kosher/Halal/Vegas?” Ha! I know how you feel! One time I ordered a sumptuous feast of the most delicious warm cheesy goodness from a local Mexican restaurant for some meetings for our staff and visitors — only to find out that my boss was Kosher so he couldn’t eat anything that combined meat and cheese! Yikes! As you know, Mexican dishes gleefully combine meat and cheese with happy abandon — so my boss literally had NOTHING to eat. (The rest of us had a delightful time, though! It was deeee-lishus!)

  10. Lol that’s funny considering how they lay out their sushi plates, you’d think they’d be familiar familiar with cold cuts! At least you locked in the deal! :) Have a great one Darcy! -Iva
    AwesomelyOZ recently posted..The Irrationality of Irrational AngerMy Profile

  11. Bea said:

    My dad travels all over the world for business, and one of my favorite stories of his is about one time when he checked into a hotel in Germany and realized they’d forgotten to put soap in his room, so he went down to the front desk to ask for some. His German is pretty good, but he was tired and not thinking, so he ended up telling the front desk people, “Excuse me, there’s no silk in my room.” They gave him these really confused/exasperated looks, and it took him several awkward seconds to figure out why. They must have been thinking “Oh my God, these Americans get more demanding every day!”

    • Ha! I love that! I can just picture him asking that — and them looking at him like he’s crazy!
      I’m going to start using that line when I check into hotels!
      I’ll use a German accent: “Zere is no zilk in mah room, dahlink! Schnell! Schnell! Bring me zee zilk!”

  12. Paul said:

    Ah, the travails of international relations. That is a hilarious story Darcy. Love it. I too have contributed to breaking down the cultural barriers, in my own special way. As a part of a 5 member team investigating the establishment of a medical equipment production facility in China for a Canadian company, one of my reporting responsibilities was “culture”. Ha! So, we were out bar hopping in Beijing one night and our Chinese driver asked if we wanted “company”. Apparently his brother was the owner of an after hours club. I thought this was a great opportunity to see the “other” side of business so off we went and, with the help of our bilingual driver, sat down and interviewed the owner and two of his girls. We paid the going rate, as was only fair, for their time and after an hour, came away with lots of interesting info (which nationalities used their services, the laws around their business, what part the brothel played in business deal making, how officials were dealt with, etc.). Anyway, they were very happy to chat and often elaborated on the answers – offering information we would not have considered. We all parted friends.

    Two days later as we hauled our luggage down to the lobby of our hotel to head for Shanghai, we realized that the stuffy concierge and the doorman were very upset. A quick look out the hotel entrance to where our ride waited, soon explained the issue. On the sidewalk stood the brothel owner and four of his girls: all intent on wishing us Canadians an emotional good-bye and a safe journey. With a round of hugs and shouted farewells we departed Beijing, waving until they were out of sight. See, I’m doing my little bit to encourage international relations too.

    • Paul, you always crack me up! I love how they put you in charge of reporting on “culture” — and your very next move is to go bar hopping in Beijing and interview brothel ladies! Hilarious! (And I can just IMAGINE the scene you caused when your new “friends” gave you a warm farewell at the hotel!)

      • Paul said:

        Ahhhh! I feel so cultured now. Ha!

  13. Deli sushi has got to go worldwide…my hubby would be first in line every single day! ;)-Ashley

    • Hooray! Now I just need 8 million more customers! :o)

  14. Lady Anne said:

    Many years ago, Hubby and I hosted an exchange student from Morocco. We go to church every Sunday, and I asked if he would accompany us the first few weeks, because all of our friends are folks from church, and they would want to meet him. No problem. He became good friends with our organist and her husband and actually sang in the choir.

    So – every Wednesday during Lent we have soup suppers, with one meat soup and one vegetarian offering. Youssef and I were chowing down on our second bowls of cream of potato soup when I bit into what I prayed was a piece of red onion. I went into the kitchen and asked the gal who had made the soup if she had put any meat in it.

    “No. Just a little bit of bacon to flavor it.” I never mentioned it to my dear Muslim “son”. He’d never tasted pork and didn’t know, and I figured if there was a sin, it was hers, not his.

    • Ha!! I LOVE that concept — “I figured if there was a sin, it was hers, not his.”
      And I love that she said there was no meat — “just bacon!” Hello!
      I agree sometimes it’s best not to know!

  15. Brilliant! You are going to make millions and I can say I “knew you when” you didn’t even put wasabi on your roast beef! –Lisa

    • Ha! Yep, I used to be such a culinary coward! Now I’m brave and bold! Bring on the wasabiiiiiiii!

  16. As a fellow sales pro I say Bravo! Nice way to save the sale. Who knew that good old deli meats would save the day. Now you better open that deli in Japan before someone beats you to it!

    So many sushi places here in Manhattan. Lunch tomorrow!

    • Phil, you’re a perfect potential partner for the deli-sushi chain in Japan. You’re a fantastic food critic and restaurant reviewer! For a mere $500,000 investment, you can own 1% of the chain — and all the wasabi-flavored bagels you can eat! :o)

  17. I remember being a receptionist at a business where those meetings took place — the line outside waiting for the meeting to end so they can devour the leftovers is almost as tense!

    • Ha! So true, so true! To be candid, we always tried to order extras so the rest of the staff could enjoy some treats too — especially the desserts!

  18. Ooh Darcy I had the opposite. I ordered 3 large platters for a big meeting. Only thing was only 3 of the 7 people that were supposed to come attended. It was a long meeting but nobody ate. The great part was I got to take most of the food home and did not have to cook supper.

    My Mom poisoned a whole group of rotarians with her chicken curry. I think she reheated chicken.
    Vivian Pitschlitz recently posted..Not that type of movieMy Profile

    • Brilliant! I LOVE the “nobody ate at the meeting-bring home for supper” plan!
      As for your Mom’s poisonous chicken curry — what does she have against rotarians?! Ha! :o)

  19. William Kendall said:

    Now that’s a business plan!

    • Thanks, William! You’re in for 8%. Send me your $400,000 investment ASAP. Small unmarked bills only, please.

      • Janette said:

        Yep, your Daikon Deli is bound to go global–will you consider franchisees? How about test kitchen volunteers? I’m STARVING–is it lunchtime yet?

  20. daisy said:

    I keep reading deli sushi as delish sushi, so I vote – Dēlisushi.
    Also, it sounds super yummy.